Pressure For Balanced Copyright Reform Builds

The CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association) has demanded and lobbied the government to adopt a copyright reform that closely mirrors the United States.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

The CRIA also insinuated in a speech in early May that Canadian content creators are being represented by the CRIA. Never mind the 6 Major labels leaving the CRIA incident back in mid-April, and the Pollara dispute, major interests groups have stepped forward and demanded a copyright reform that actually does not reflect what the CRIA wants.

Over the months, one by one, interest groups have taken interest in the copyright debate and submitted open letters to the government demanding what the CRIA would more then likely disagree with.

First up was a large list of interest groups with a joint open letter to Parliament making several demands in copyright reform. In reference to Bill C-60, the letter stated, “Proposed ‘anti-circumvention’ provisions would make it illegal for people to circumvent copyright holders’ DRM. Such legal provisions could cripple Canadians’ ability to protect their privacy and to enjoy copyright works in private, free from copyright holders’ DRM ‘spyware’.” It doesn’t seem that these people are big fans of the Sony Rootkit technologies found in albums in Canada.

Another event was the Canadian Art Professionals making demands on copyright reform earlier in June. They demanded that “Fair access to copyrighted material lies at the heart of copyright”, “Artists and other creators require certainty of access”, and “Anti-circumvention laws should not outlaw creative access”. Clearly, the art professionals do not want DRM (Digital rights Management) to hinder new art and say that DRM should be allowed to be circumvented for the purpose of critical commentary and creating new works.

Along the same ideas, CAMDO (Canadian Art Museum Directors’ Organization) references the art professionals. The president, Marilyn Smith says, “Our current copyright legislation stifles the creativity of artists.” At the same time, the CMA (Canadian Museums Associations) joined the art professionals.

So it seems millions of people have got the answer to the burning question of at least a few things artists want in copyright reform. Many associations that are suppose to represent the Canadian artistic community seem to be saying that DRM cripples new innovation in new art. One may conclude that these people are generally saying, ‘Artists and critics must legally circumvent DRM for critical analysis and arts sake’ and that there is a great deal of pressure to make it illegal for DRM that has spyware encoded into it to spy on Canadian consumers.

But wait, there’s more. The CLA (Canadian Library Association) has also submitted an open letter (PDF) to the Canadian Minister of Heritage, Bev Oda. The letter explains that the “CLA represents the interests of approximately 57,000 library staff and thousands of libraries of all kinds across Canada on a range of public policy issues. None is more critical than copyright. But more importantly, libraries and librarians speak on behalf of our users: millions of students, educators, scholars, researchers, lifelong learners, special library users and recreational readers, from children to seniors. Library users are the Canadian public: they are not members of a “special interest groups” when it comes to copyright.” The CLA references Bill C-60 and states, “Our association had serious concerns with that bill, but applauded certain elements of it.” When referencing what needs to be done, the CLA president writes, “At this time, our Association recommends caution and reflection. Until the government is in a position to introduce legislation that can adequately address the needs of creators, rights holders and users, we feel that it is best to let the issue lay in abeyance. It is our position that the complexity of the issues requires that more study be undertaken before any legislation is introduced […] Licensing of all content is not the answer, and will reduce access to information for ordinary Canadians and in particular our scholars.”

Along side this was CARL (Canadian Association of research Libraries) who released a letter (PDF) as well. The letter states, “CARL welcomed the sections of [Bill C-60] which related to:

the alteration or removal of rights management information and circumventing technological measures for non-infringing purposes and

the introduction of a “notice and notice” as opposed to a “notice and take down” regime for Internet Service Providers”
” Also in the letter is a familiar list that is against DRM that has spyware built into it and advocating privacy for individuals.

So one thing is clear, many organizations do not want DRM inhibiting creativity, criticism and privacy. Certainly an interesting move on these organizations part.

Update: The Digital Security Coalition issued its own open letter on these issues surrounding DRM. Included on their site is a press release.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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